The next day I had Virginia on my mind!

“Not Georgia?” you wonder, while also wondering how you came to be one of my narrative devices.

No, not Georgia. She will be on my mind later. On this day, it was Virginia. I drove down to Bristow, VA (not far at all from DC) and met up with my old college friend Brandon West.

Brandon getting funky with the bjukuleriphone.

He recorded a healthy smattering of things for me, because oh my goodness — look at that room. He has a room in his house which is full of odd instruments. His father is military and always brought back unusual instruments from his travels abroad, eventually accumulating a significant pile of instruments. Look at this:

Solid gold TIME.

That, my friends, is called “hours of fun for everyone.” Check out Brandon breaking it down on the dulciflangitar:

Oh wait this is a zithanjo. Please, someone make this two into a little gif animation.

Brandon also does an absolutely amazing cricket impression. So I also recorded that.

Then, foolishly leaving behind my favorite hat, I headed south to Williamsburg, sometimes called “colonial Williamsburg” due to its historically colonial nature. It was indeed quite historic.

But I didn’t go there for the history. I went there to meet a cool dude named Christian Amonson, who is an organ student and has access to several pipe organs around the city. He is a sound engineer as well as a multi-instrumentalist.

Christian manning the kit.

I got there in time to hang out with him and some of his friends, then, after sleeping at his place, we arose determined to record a bunch of stuff. We first recorded a smattering of drums, then headed off to a church with a large pipe organ:

A nice set of pipes on that thing.

Oh yeah.

So we set up all the stuff and then some other guy came in to use the organ so we instead went off to see an amazing concert by a guy who plays the glass armonica, an instrument invented by Beethoven.

“I’m pretty sure Beethoven didn’t invent any instruments,” you say, because you are smart. “It was probably Da Vinci. He invented a lot.”

(Sweet new technique — flatter my readers by making them appear as super smart narrative devices.)

Okay, so it was invented by Leonardo da Vinci, or “Vince” as I like to call him. Anyway, it’s a long cork dowel attached to a spinning wheel, with all kinds of glass bowls of different sizes attached to it. Once you get it spinning, you can moisten your finger and touch it to the edge of the spinning bowl to get a nice ringing sound.

“Um, guys?” says Attractive Girl. “The glass armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin.”

Well, I guess that’s why her first name is Attractive. Franklin it is. Anyway, this guy’s concert was awesome, he also played a handful of other amazing instruments that use ringing glass as the primary sound generator. Check him out! The crystal bachet in particular is an amazing instrument.

I asked him if he had time that day to record any of his glass instruments for my project, but alas, he was unable to make time in his busy day on short notice. I do hope to encounter another glass armonica player somewhere though; the sound was definitely unique.

Then we were back here:

Christian next to a vital organ.

Christian had a ridiculously nice Shoeps mic which we used to record the organ in a mid-side configuration. It was my first time learning about this micing technique and it seemed pretty conceptually awesome. The results were pretty aurally awesome too.

Christian rocking it out on the pipes.

We spent a while coming up with a contrapuntal Bach-esque part for a song, then recorded it, in four parts: melody, harmony, chords, pedals. Each part had its own huge sound with the natural reverb of the sanctuary. It was huge and awesome.

I just noticed that Christian is really getting into that organ playing. Let’s zoom in for a closer look:

Great musicians are set apart by the things which aren't notated.

NEXT: Carolina gets on my mind, pushing off Virginia to become king of the mindhill!

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